Israel Blocks Canned Meat Shipment to Gaza - Because It's Not Kosher

Thousands of cans stuck in Israel over the past three months, says a Palestinian importer, who has appealed to the Palestinian Authority, MKs

Tomer Appelbaum

Israel is blocking the release of canned meat imports from Brazil to the Gaza Strip, citing the lack of a kashrut certificate.

The same Palestinian company has been importing these goods for years via the Ashdod Port, and the Keren Shalom crossing, after customs payment and laboratory examination to confirm its suitability for human consumption.

Mohammed Shaker, the company’s owner, told Haaretz that he follows all of Israel’s meat import rules, but that over the past three months he has been unable to secure the release of shipping containers from the port, containing thousands of cans of meat.

Customs official have confirmed that the reason for not releasing the products is that they lack a kashrut certificate.

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“We appealed to the rabbinate, to the Economy Ministry and to COGAT [the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories]. Everybody says someone else is responsible. This is a very large shipment with an expiration date. Every additional day of delay only causes us more damage,” Shaker told Haaretz.

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Shaker said he also has to pay $600 a day for storage at the port. “As of now, I’ve paid about 100,000 shekels [$27,457] and I don’t know when I’ll get it. It’s not defective and it’s hallal,” Shaker said, using the term for Islamic food regulations.

“Why did kashrut come up all of a sudden?” he said.

Shaker has also appealed to the Palestinian Authority and to MKs Jamal Zahalka and Dov Khenin (Joint List), who in turn have approached the Economy Ministry, which has not responded so far.

Haaretz submitted a query to COGAT’s Gaza office, which in turn referred it to the Economy Ministry, which said: “The matter was brought to the attention of the ministry, which together with the relevant agencies is formulating a solution.”

The Tax Authority said: “Customs enforces the legality of imports [as defined by] relevant government ministries. In the case in question, the release of the goods requires authorization by the Health Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate. When these authorizations are received, the goods will be released from customs.”